The internet has opened up a world of information for anyone with a computer and a connection. Your children will learn about computers, but just as you wouldn't send children near a busy road without some safety rules, you shouldn't send them on to the information superhighway without rules of the road. Too many dangers from pedophiles to con artists can reach children (and adults) through the internet.
- Choose a commercial online service that offers parental control features. These features can block contact that is not clearly marked as appropriate for children: chat rooms, bulletin boards, news groups, and discussion groups - or access to the Internet entirely.
- Monitor your children when they're online and monitor the time they spend online. If a child becomes uneasy or defensive when you walk into the room or when you linger, this could be a sign that he or she is up to something unusual or even forbidden.
- Purchase blocking software and design your own safety system. Different packages can block sites by name, search for unacceptable words and block access to sites containing those words, block entire categories of material, and prevent children from giving out personal information.
- The best tool a child has for screening material found on the Internet is his or her brain. Teach children about exploitation, pornography, hate literature, excessive violence, and other issues that concern you so they know how to respond when they see this material.
Tell Your Children
- Always to let you know immediately if they find something scary or threatening on the Internet.
- Never to agree to meet face to face with someone they've met online.
- Never to enter an area that charges for services without asking you first.
- Never to give out their name, address, telephone number, password, school name, parent's name, or any other personal information.
- Never to respond to messages that have bad words or seem scary or just weird.
- Never to send a picture of themselves to anyone without your permission.
- I will never agree to get together with someone 1: "meet" online without first checking with my parents. If my parents agree to the meeting, I will be sure that it is in a public place and bring my mother or father along.
- I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first checking with my parents.
- I will not give out personal information such as my address, telephone number, parents' work address/telephone number, or the name and location of my school without my parents' permission.
- I will not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make me feel uncomfortable. It is not my fault if I get a message like that. If :1 do 3: will tell my parents right away so that they can contact the service provider.
- I will talk with my parents so that we can set up rules for going online. We will decide upon the time of day that I can be online, the length of time I can be online and appropriate sites for me to visit. I will not access other areas or break these rules without their permission.
- I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that makes me feel uncomfortable.